AUTO RACING

Kyle Larson will be back in NASCAR next season driving the flagship No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Larson signed a multi-year contract Wednesday with Hendrick that ended his seven-month banishment from NASCAR for using a racial slur while playing an online racing game last spring. He’d been considered the top pending free agent in the sport but was promptly fired by Chip Ganassi Racing and lost all his sponsors.

Since using the slur on April 12, Larson has completed NASCAR’s sensitivity training, hired an inclusion training coach, volunteered with the Tony Sanneh Foundation, visited Jackie Joyner-Kersee and her St. Louis community center, and the site of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, that followed a fatal police shooting of a Black man.

Larson has volunteered at food banks, went with Sanneh to the George Floyd Memorial site in Minneapolis, spent extensive time at the Urban Youth Racing School in Philadelphia and made numerous other visits to both educate himself on racial justice issues and speak of his own experiences.

Larson, who is half-Japanese, also kept racing under the radar: He has won 42 sprint car races in 2020 while suspended from NASCAR.

INDYCAR: Marcus Ericsson signed a multi-year IndyCar deal Wednesday to return to Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ganassi on Sunday celebrated his 20th overall championship in 30 seasons of competition across various motorsports series. Scott Dixon won his sixth IndyCar title in the season finale.

Attention then turned to completing the remainder of the Ganassi lineup, which will include Ericsson and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. Felix Rosenqvist is not returning to a fourth IndyCar entry but could be replaced by Spanish rookie Alex Palou in 2021.

Ericsson will be back for a second season in the No. 8 Honda. In his first year with the team, the Swede finished 12th in the IndyCar standings.

HOCKEY

AHL: The American Hockey League moved its projected start of next season back to Feb. 5 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, president and CEO Scott Howson announced.

The AHL is the top minor league affiliate for the NHL, which is targeting a Jan. 1 start for the season.

The ECHL – a tier below the AHL in North American minor league hockey – announced earlier in October it will start its season Dec. 11 with 13 of 26 teams participating right away. The Maine Mariners are scheduled to start Jan. 15.

CYCLING

SPANISH VUELTA: Defending champion Primoz Roglic made a strong attack on the demanding final climb to win the eighth stage of the Spanish Vuelta on Wednesday, closing the gap to overall leader Richard Carapaz.

Roglic finished 13 seconds in front of Carapaz on the 164-kilometer (102-mile) stage from Logroño to the Alto de Moncalvillo.

“It was a boring slow start but then the pace went up and it was super hard and fast after the second last climb,” Roglic said. “If there’s an opportunity, I take it. Luckily I had the legs and I’m happy to win. It’s also nice to get some time back but most of all it’s just nice to win the race.”

The Jumbo-Visma rider moved from fourth to second in the overall standings, closing to within 13 seconds of Carapaz, who rides for Ineos.

“It’s been a very animated stage and we’ve seen a strong Roglic, but we’re still in the fight,” Carapaz said. “The truth is this duel has been quite nice and it motivates me because it makes it more for an exciting race, mostly for the fans but also for us with the level we’re riding at. It seems like we have a couple of easier days ahead of us but we’re racing and we don’t know what’s coming.”

Dan Martin, of team Israel Start-Up Nation, was third on Wednesday and is also third overall, 28 seconds off the lead.

SOCCER

MLS: Aaron Long scored in the 89th minute and the New York Red Bulls beat the New England Revolution 1-0 at Harrison, New Jersey.

Both teams clinched playoff spots later when FC Dallas beat Inter Miami.

Long put away a half-volley from the top of the 6-yard box after Tim Parker’s redirected a corner kick by Alejandro Romero Gamarra.

Ryan Meara had two saves for his third shutout of the season. New York (8-8-5) is unbeaten in its last five games, but has just two wins in its last seven.

New England (7-6-8) is winless, with two losses, in its last three games.

BUNDESLIGA: The Bundesliga will have to play without fans again after the tentative return of spectators was cut short due to rising coronavirus infections in Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and governors of the country’s 16 states passed new restrictions on Wednesday in a bid to contain the virus, meaning professional soccer matches will have to be played without spectators starting Monday and for the rest of November. Amateur sports and leisure activities were suspended, with the exception of individual exercises.

“We must act, and now, to avoid an acute national health emergency,” Merkel said as she outlined the reasons behind closing restaurants, bars, clubs, cinemas, theaters and other leisure facilities for four weeks.

The Bundesliga has been playing with limited or no fans present this season anyway, with teams following local restrictions based on infection rates. But Wednesday’s new measures are the first nationwide clampdown since the Bundesliga’s two-month suspension when the pandemic began in March.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Moise Kean scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain beat Basaksehir 2-0 at Istanbul, but lost Neymar to an injury.

Neymar left the field after 26 minutes and was replaced by winger Pablo Sarabia.

“I hope it’s not a serious injury and we’ll wait to see the results of his scan tomorrow. It’s his adductor,” PSG Coach Thomas Tuchel said. “He had to come off. He wasn’t in real pain but he felt uncomfortable. In a packed schedule, he could be out for a few games. But I’m not sure.”

• Chelsea enjoyed its first match in front of fans in nearly eight months, beating hot Krasnodar 4-0 to spoil the Russian club’s home debut in the competition.

Krasnodar goalkeeper Matvei Safonov let a shot from Callum Hudson-Odoi squirm through his grasp and over the line to gift Chelsea a 37th-minute lead, before Timo Werner – from the penalty spot – Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic added further goals in the second half.

• Veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina produced a couple of decisive saves to help Lazio to a 1-1 draw at Brugge.

• Ferencvaros came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with visiting 10-man Dynamo Kyiv, earning the Hungarian club’s first league point in 25 years.

• Marcus Rashford came off the bench to score an 18-minute hat trick as host Manchester United thrashed Leipzig 5-0 to earn a second straight win to open the group stage.

TENNIS

ERSTE BANK OPEN: Novak Djokovic saved four set points in a 7-6 (11), 6-3 win over Borna Coric to reach the quarterfinals at Vienna and move one step closer to sealing the year-end No. 1 ranking.

Djokovic can lock up the top position by winning the title on Sunday.

Otherwise Rafael Nadal could still mathematically overtake him, although Nadal would need to enter a tournament in Bulgaria next month in order to do so.


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